My nose is buried in a glass of Carménère. I breathe in the wine, my surroundings. I’m on a street that is likely named El 25 de Mayo or El 9 de Julio. I’m about to say something about either hints of cherry or crushed pepper when a dog walks by me. It’s the eighty-seventh perro callejero that I’ve seen since I landed. So naturally, I ask:
-Is it the year of the dog?
Across the table from me is Santini Martin. He wears a white Carlos Gardel hat like a tourist and reads La Nación like a local. He sips a café cortado between grunts.
-You know, the Chinese calendar.
-China? This is Chile.
-How’s the wine?
-Pepper, thyme, not off-settling tannic. Black berries.
-You read or smelled all that?
-Don’t offend me. Top me off.
Jet lag was setting in. My vision was going soft and the dogs were multiply like…
-I think they over soaked the skins. Too tannic for my taste.
-Speaking of oversoaked skins, you should consider sunscreen.
-Consider it considered. Now, what do you know about these dogs?
-They were all once puppies.
-Everyone loves puppies.
-And then they grew up.
-Became a motley crew.
-Now they roam the streets looking for a hot meal, some shade, a glass of vino tinto and a bath.
-Someone should take them in.
-No one could ever love these mutts.
-You’re a cold hearted man.
-I’m a realist.
-Where I come from they love ugly dogs. They eat health conscious meals, exercise regularly and spend their Sunday nights snuggled up watching HBO.
-A dog’s life.
-I think I’ll post flyers in Los Angeles advertising these mutts. Adopting feral dogs is very in. Very progressive. Like human rights used to be.
-That topic has gone a bit soft.
-Haven’t we all.
I swill and swig the last of my Carménère.
-Stick to the dogs, kid.
And so I did.
EXCHANGING PLEASANTRIES CANINE FOUNDATION est. 2012
Name: Pablo Neruda Breed: Chilean Malamute Age: 11 About: Trained duck hunter, adept chef, prone to fleas, likes fast women with loose morals. Loves to dance.
Name: Augusto Pinochet Ugarte Breed: Breton Doberman Pinscher Age: Deceased About: Loves to laugh, talk fascism, violate human rights, line dance and impose curfews.
Name: Jeronimo Breed: Cat/Chihuahua Age: 32 About: Vegan, political junkie, hates her dad, loves Tom Brady and Newt Gingrich. Looking forward to becoming a born-again Christian. Her favorite holiday is Easter.
Name: Bernardo O’Higgins Breed: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Age: 64 About: The life of an illegitimate son can be a tough one. Poor health and lack of training hasn’t helped either, but I’ve got high hopes for this guy. He’s got a great attitude and doesn’t shed.
Name: Gabby Mistral Breed: Poet/Boss Age: 5.5 About: Haunted by betrayal, sorrow, death, and the perpetual stain that Hot Cheetos leaves on one’s fingers. What she lacks in outright happiness she makes up for with a loud wardrobe.
If you’re interested in adopting any of these perros callejeros/children please follow the instructions below:
- Western Union $15,500 USD to P.O. Box 1826 Hollywood, CA 90028 c/o Exchanging Pleasantries.
- Fly to Chile.
- Roam Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, and Santiago until you find the dog of your dreams.
- Cab to the airport.
- Bribe customs.
- Fly back to wherever you live.
- Bribe customs again.
- Bathe, spay and/or neuter your pet.
- Send a thank you note to the above address.
If you have any questions, please direct them to this guy…